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Descriptions coming! Enjoy the photos for now...
"Within their first hour the local team said, 'Ninety percent of your job is done. You're here, your presence speaks volumes..."
"...The longer they were there, the more they began to see that the tasks they came to do were not what was needed most. The presence and chance for relationship together seemed to be the most pressing need for the church beyond any tasks that were planned..."
-From Helping Without Hurting, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkertjnnn
A few snapshots from Boston to Big Papi-land...
BY MELISSA KECK, CTK JAMAICA PLAIN/ROXBURY
Today was our second day at the orphanage, The Ark, and the school here in Constanza (Centro de Cuidados). As we continued painting the front gate of the school, Meda and I had the opportunity to meet Aracelis. She is one of the teachers here at the school and shared her story of how God called her here. All of the staff are Christians, and part of the school curriculum is teaching biblical Christianity. Aracelis is from Puerto Rico but has lived in several parts of the USA. In her own words, she is a missionary here. After ministry with YWAM (Youth with a Mission) and visiting the school since 2011, Aracelis responded one year ago to God calling her here to work with the kids in Constanza. She describes Constanza as religious, with the people having the fear of God, but they are influenced negatively by legalism in the local churches. She wanted to obey God because she believes God's plan is better than hers. What a good word, right? Constanza is a small, poor agricultural town seated in a valley surrounded by mountains. Driving here from Santiago on Saturday, I noticed kids the same age as my own, but they weren't playing with toys or at the playgrounds. They were playing with rocks, dirt, or anything they could find. After 8 years of no involvement in world missions due to having having three children and planting a church, I had forgotten how the majority of the world experiences and lives life. I've grown accustomed to the privileges and opportunities for me and my kids growing up in Boston. Aracelis, though born in Puerto Rico, lived in the U.S. and also experienced this. However, she chose to follow God's call here in order to help unprivileged children have better opportunities. I'm grateful to have met Aracelis, and I told her we would pray for her as she follows Jesus living out the Gospel here as a mature Christian woman and teacher. Please join me in praying for her and the other teachers who have an amazing opportunity to shape the lives of these children they teach. Later this week we'll have an opportunity to have lunch with all the teachers, as well as the house parents at the orphanage. Please pray for this time and for our team to be an encouragement to them. Thank you for your prayers and support.
BY DENA ORFANIDIS
As much as I dread traveling, my first day in Constanza was somewhere I'd love to travel again. Day One (Sunday) we all drove up to a waterfall that took quite a while...in a rickety 10-seater truck on the most bumpiest dirt road I have ever been on. But I cannot complain because the view was absolutely amazing, and as we rode up all the farmers waved to us. I could only say "Hola" because that's the only word I can use - because my Spanish vocabulary doesn't exist! The waterfall was so breathtaking. The water was of course freezing but we had so many people from our group jump in. On our way back from the waterfall, we managed to fit around 30 people in the truck! By the way, it was pouring rain so we were all so we were all soaked, sweaty and squished. It was definitely a ride to remember. Later in the evening Robbie asked us all a question which was, "Who is God?" I thought back to the ride to the waterfall because God is the creator of our beautiful earth. He created all of the farmers to work on the fields and mountains to grow all sorts of things. And God has created us to love the earth and love each other. I think that God is someone we can all thank, not only for the beautiful earth, but the people too. I met a couple kids from the school here and I just adore them. Seeing them smile and laugh and play with the kids from our group made my day. I thank God for this trip so far and the beautiful and amazing people I'm with. God is good indeed.
CTK Family and Supporters! We've had a number of folks ask about receiving updates and prayer requests for our DR trip. So we've created a blog that we'll plan (technology permitting) to update every couple days. Multiple folks from our team will post here, so check in often!
A little background before we go...
On Saturday, our team of 18 will travel to Constanza (central DR) to spend a week working with orphans and residents of this agricultural community. Through a personal connection, Jan and Keith Wade introduced us to a missionary family there, Fred and Kasandra O'Brien and their four children. The O'Brien's minister through Kids Alive International (KAI), an evangelical missions agency focused on serving vulnerable and exploited children across four continents. In Constanza, the O'Brien's oversee an orphanage, a Christian school, a Care Center, and discipleship ministries for middle schoolers, community moms, and even have a baseball ministry named Christ the King!
Considering this is CTK's first trip and the O'Brien's have a deep history there, our trip will be primarily focused on supporting and encouraging them. We want to learn their story and discover how they are witnessing God move. We want to listen to the stories of Dominicans and share fellowship with other Christians. Our vision for this trip is to worship our global God by being a blessing to DR missionaries as they work for the transformation of Constanza.
Hopefully you hear echoes of CTKN's own vision of "Worship. Bless. Transform." We're eager to experience how God is doing these same things among the nations (Isa. 2:2, Rev. 7:9), albeit in a setting very different from ours. We're also praying this trip will enable us to see our own neighborhoods and communities with fresh eyes and love (Jer. 29) - especially considering Boston is home to one of the largest Dominican communities in the U.S.
While our main focus is listening, learning, and encouraging, we're eager to work hard in the community through maintenance on KAI facilities, leading devotionals, helping run a sports camp, and doing community outreach alongside the O'Brien's.
In these next four days, as we pack bags and make last minute preparations, please pray for:
- Safe travels for our out-of-town team members coming to Boston from Texas, Buffalo, Connecticut, and several kids coming back from Maine.
- Endurance the O'Brien family, who is this week hosting another church group from Connecticut.
- Settled nerves in team members and their sending families - that the assurance would come from the Lord who says "I know your coming and your going" (Ps 121:8).
- An ability for our team, and our church, to see this as part of a longer-term engagement with God's world mission.